Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Why Adidas is sending an experiment to the International Space Station

“BOOST in Space” is an effort by Adidas to attempt to make midsoles in space. The midsole is the layer between the outer and inner soles of a shoe that is helpful in absorbing shock. Adidas fuses together thousands of mini spheres of foam to create its midsoles on Earth. However, the company would like to see the effects of zero gravity on the production of its midsoles.

NASA’s website says, “The BOOST Orbital Operations on Spheroid Tesellation (Adidas BOOST) investigation looks at how multiple types of pellets behave in this molding process. Using one type of pellet creates a foam with the same properties throughout the sole component. Using multiple pellet types can allow engineers to change mechanical properties and optimize shoe performance and comfort. Removing gravity from the process enables a closer look at pellet motion and location during the process.”

What is Adidas going to learn from this “BOOST in Space” experiment? Pretty much nothing. Even if they do find some breakthrough in midsole production in space, how is this going to help the company? Adidas is not going to make an orbiting space station factory. This is just a clever marketing stunt by the company to garner media attention, such as this article. It is also a marketing stunt to show off “technological superiority” in its shoes. Even though the experiment has no practical value, it helps brand Adidas and its shoes as modern and superior.

Microgravity enables a closer look at the factors behind pellet motion and location, which could enhance manufacturing processes as well as product performance and comfort.

“BOOST in Space” Project description

SpaceX ISS resupply mission

March 2 is the planned date for SpaceX’s 20th International Space Station resupply mission. The Cargo Dragon will be carrying the usual cargo, along with other payloads and commercial cargo such as “BOOST in Space.” The most notable cargo is the expansion to Europe’s Columbus Module.

Bartolomeo: With payloads attached, left, and without, right. | Image: ESA via TechCrunch

Bartolomeo is an exterior platform that will attach to the exterior of the Columbus Module. The platform has a boomstick that is probably to manipulate the 12 sites where commercial and educational payloads can be attached. The sites can hold any experiments related to vacuum, imaging, radiation testing, etc. It is mostly aimed to hold experiments that require external exposure to space.

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Source: TechCrunch

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